Foreign investment in Tunisia falls 1.3%




Foreign direct investment in Tunisia fell by 1.3 percent in the first half of 2013, official data showed, a likely reflection of political strife in the north African state.
Foreign investments fell to 939 million Tunisian dinars ($569.95 million) from 951.1 million dinars in the same period of 2012, the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA) said.
Tunisia, the birthplace of the “Arab spring” protests, is in renewed political turmoil after the assassination of Mohamed Brahmi, a secular opposition figure, last month.
Foreign investment was down 13.9 percent on the same period in 2010, before a 2011 uprising toppled autocratic leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.
The service sector experienced the largest decline in investment — down 21 percent on last year — followed by the industrial sector ñ down 5 percent — and energy — down 4.3 percent.
Unemployment fell in the second quarter of 2013 to 15.9 percent from 16.5 percent in the quarter, the National Institute of Statistics said this week.
Tunisia’s foreign currency reserves rose to $6.85 billion in July after a sharp decline last month.
The central bank said the reserves rose to $6.85 billion (104 days of imports), compared with $6.32 billion (94 days) last month.
Foreign currency reserves rose in July due the use of external resources while foreign investment fell, the bank said without giving detailed figures.
Central Bank Governor Chadli Ayari has said Tunisia should keep enough foreign reserves to cover at least 100 days’ imports.
The bank said it kept its key interest rate unchanged at 4 percent.
The North African country, which has signed a $1.7 billion standby-loan agreement with the International Monetary fund (IMF), is struggling with rising inflation, a big external deficit and an uncertain political outlook.


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